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Operatics

There are times, during normal times, that I do my work to the background of an old movie or sometimes a "Law and Order" rerun. That's the beauty of laptops. 

That makes me different than my husband, who likes to listen to classical music while he's typing at his desktop. 

Not that I don't like classical music -- though he knows more then I do by a long shot. It's that I find good music distracts me. I may find myself humming or waving an imaginary baton. So TV, especially an old movie I may have seen many times before, works much better. It's almost like background noise for me.

But that's during "normal times." The past few weeks have been anything but. Just as wars, power outages, and 9/11 haven't been. Then I tended toward news programs.

I found myself during the coronavirus pandemic having too much time on my hands. It's been difficult doing my work -- since some of the articles I write relate to events that either have been postponed or canceled. Or no one's sure which is which at this point. Other projects, assigned from nonprofits, are otherwise on hold. So I've been reading more in the middle of the day, and doing more creative writing, which is a great pleasure -- if I don't think about why I'm able to indulge in it. I also finding myself doing something I'd never ordinarily do. Which is, not just listening to operas but watching them streamed live.
 
A friend nearby I didn't even realize likes opera does. She called the other day to say that the Metropolitan Opera was streaming some of its great productions that normally are shown on Saturday afternoons. The beauty of it too was that you could control where you were at in the transmission: start back at the beginning, move to wherever you wanted to do. And what productions. Some absolutely exquisite singers singing operas that include Carmen, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, and one I had never seen, Eugene Onegin. Seeing it now fit in perfectly with my obsession I have otherwise described here for the works of classic Russian authors. Onegin, written by the country's national poet, Pushkin, features a man who was a Byronic hero, and inspired -- in part -- Dostoevsky's Stavrogin from The Possessed. 

Twice in this series I saw Dmitri Hvorostovsky, a lyric baritone from Russia with a silver mane -- it turned that way when the singer was in his early-30s -- and a voice to match. Charismatic in manner, considered perfect to play the bored, arrogant aristocrat who learns the value of things too late. He also appeared in Verdi's Il Travotre, a few months after he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had never heard such thunderous applause and such a broad smile in response. You could tell they were clapping not only for his performance but for his courage. At 55, Hvorostovsky was dead. My husband said God wanted him to sing in Heaven. That's very likely.

I actually watched each opera without doing something else at the same time. After all, how often do we have pandemic?